Natalie Lussier, the new summer intern at Kelly & Kelly P.C. recently completed her first week at the law firm. Natalie took the time to reflect and write about her experiences so far. Below are Natalie’s thoughts on her first week at Kelly & Kelly.
“I have had many first days of work, both as an intern and as a full-time employee, and I can confidently say that internships are the most intimidating. I’m going to attribute this to lack of experience. As an intern, you have the accurate label as inexperienced, and you spend much of your initial weeks trying to tread water while everyone else is swimming laps. This is why I was particularly anxious coming into this internship. Stress is inevitable with new experiences, and so I adopted the ideology of anxious, yet open.
The night before my first day at Kelly & Kelly P.C, a Northville based law firm, I stressed over what I would wear, what I would say, how I would carry myself. After surviving my first day, it could not be more apparent that I focused on the wrong skills (and stereotypes)! My extremely shallow stereotype example is that I was happy to see that lawyers wear actual colors, not just black and grey pant suits. If I could go back, I would have focused more on channeling my patience, empathy, and critical thinking skills. This would have prepared me for the family law consultations and critical thinking questions thrown at me. Eloquence and how you carry yourself are definitely important, but lawyers can see through the mask of a well ironed outfit or well-rehearsed introduction if those other skills aren’t there to complement.
I shadowed two different attorneys with two very different areas of law. I want to first speak about Michael Kelly and Criminal Law. I learned a lot about Mike’s current cases and previous cases. He challenged my thinking while also educating me through legal facts and anecdotes. He told me a story of a supposedly cut and dry case of an assumed guilty client. Mike then painted that case into a story of a man in the wrong place at the wrong time, who was trying to do the right thing. The narrative that was crafted forced me to feel the client’s emotions and view the case from his eyes. This is when I realized that the law isn’t just about deciding what is right and what is wrong – it is dissecting the grey. It’s telling your client’s story in a way that will make people feel something. On a surface level, a jury and judge would see what the police did initially: a man with a history of DUIs standing next to a crashed car that was registered in his name. However, after digging deeper, Mike was able to tell the true narrative: that the man’s designated driver had fled the scene. I now see that refusing to accept initial findings as absolute truths can be the difference between a fair trial and a wrongful conviction.
I also spent time shadowing Ryan Kelly. I observed Family Law consultations and experienced the intimacy of these initial meetings. An attorney that specializes in Family Law has to ask tough and invasive questions from the start: “Why do you think he left you?” “What do you think her reasoning is for not letting you see your newborn son?” These questions force reflection; emotions that have potentially been compartmentalized for years are brought to the surface for the first time. Family lawyers, for this reason, take on the role of therapist at times. It’s a unique role because it involves listening and asking tough questions to understand the situation, but instead of offering emotional solutions, they offer legal solutions. Much like therapists, they have to ask these questions and gain that understanding, but then detach when the day is over. I went home with the image of a tired man with his head in his hands, audibly asking what went wrong. This image was disheartening, but I also thought of how his back straightened and hands dropped as Ryan detailed his options with unwavering confidence. This is my drive for wanting to pursue law: the power of knowledge. Attorneys are armed with knowledge of the law, which is the most powerful tool to help people in these situations. Because of this knowledge, I learned the impact of trust. Though this man no longer trusted his wife, he trusted Ryan to turn his situation into a new opportunity.
The end of day one has left me tired, excited, and eager for the next day. I only learned about two of the four areas of practice, with learning about Business, Estate Planning and Probate Law to follow in the coming weeks. I gained a wealth of knowledge in just one day, from learning about laws to navigating tough discussions with clients. Kelly & Kelly is unique because the firm doesn’t just have one personality or specialty. Somehow, even with four areas of practice, they are experts at each. The attorneys as a collective group hold a myriad of awards and the firm itself has been recognized for different reasons, from supporting women to consistently serving its community. This credibility is what drew me to this particular firm.
I went into my first day wanting to embrace the role of a sponge, to take in all of the information and experience that would be given. I don’t see this mindset wavering any time soon, because if I learned anything from my first day, it’s that I haven’t even scratched the surface of what I can learn this summer.”